Jets in prime position for historic change
Jets in prime position for historic change
MINNEAPOLIS — To understand where the Jets are now, you have to understand where they’ve been. Or, to be more precise, where they haven’t been.
The Jets had lost a combined 70 games over the six seasons prior to this one, a dire stretch punctuated by their combined 6-27 record the previous two years. But it’s not just recent issues that have sidelined (at least temporarily) a 2022 team that surprised everyone with a 7-4 record built without any consistent play at the game’s most critical position.
It’s long-term history, never a fun topic at franchise headquarters in Florham Park, N.J. As head coach Robert Saleh and his players prepare to face the Vikings (9-2) in Minneapolis Sunday in a game that will either inflate or deflate their playoff hopes, here’s a quick rundown of the scores of the other eight home teams in the four major men’s sports since the Jets last reached the Super Bowl in January 1969 .
Giants: Five Super Bowl trips, four championships
Yankees: Eleven trips to the World Series, seven championships
Mets: Five trips to the World Series, two championships
Knicks: Five trips to the NBA Finals, two championships
Nets: Five trips to the ABA/NBA Finals, two championships
Rangers: Four trips to the Stanley Cup Finals, one championship
Islanders: Five trips to the Stanley Cup Finals, four championships
Devils: Five trips to the Stanley Cup Finals, three championships
Every other franchise has made at least four appearances in their respective postseason finals since the Jets’ epic upset of the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III, and seven of the eight have won multiple titles (the Nets’ two were in the ABA). In other words, the not-so-bad green machine is long overdue for a string of sustained hits that appear within its reach.
These Jets sure seem like the real deal for years to come, which would represent a much-needed shakeup for the market’s most frustrated fan base. What would reasonable success look like over the next five seasons? How about advancing to a Super Bowl for the first time (all together now) since the man walked on the moon and landing within a couple of AFC Championship games, like they did under head coach Rex Ryan the 2009 and 2010 seasons?
Take a quick survey of the list. The Jets have players all over the place, including rookie Sauce Gardner, perhaps the Darrelle Revis of his generation, and rookie Garrett Wilson, who projects to be a breakout game star. General manager Joe Douglas did such a good job of assembling talent, he could overcome the apparent mistake he made with the second overall pick in the 2021 draft.
If Zach Wilson is ever much more than the Zach Wilson we saw for 20 starts, before Saleh benched him in favor of Mike White, Douglas will have to answer for this. On the other hand, if White proves to be a consistent winner who shows flashes of greatness like he did last year against Cincinnati and last Sunday against Chicago, that could be good enough to get the rest of Douglas’ cast into the tournament in postseason
During the summer, when the Jets’ prospects didn’t look as encouraging as they do now, Douglas, a former Eagles executive, talked about how his former team handled the 24/7 scrutiny in Philly’s unforgiving market.
“This is a tough town and a tough fan base, too,” Douglas told The Post at the time. “But there are [eight] other teams here. I feel like it’s a Knicks-Yankees town. Hopefully it can be a Jets city soon.
Of course, there’s only one sure-fire way to make New York a Jets city, and no one needs an audience with Joe Willie Namath to find out how.
Although they’ve been looking for a quarterback for about as long as people have been looking for Bigfoot, the Jets thought they had found their Next Namath, finally, in Wilson. So far, the very idea sounds like a practical joke. Douglas and Saleh didn’t want to send the kid to the bench, not after everything they put him through, but they had no choice. They had to put the season in the hands of White, the No. 171 pick in the 2018 draft, and hope he can make the magic last this time.
“Everybody loves Mike,” Saleh said.
And that’s because everyone loves an underdog story, like that of a guy the Jets gave up four times to fight back and lead his team to an unimaginable place.
Do the Jets have a credible chance to make it to the Super Bowl next February? Hey, crazy things happen in the NFL, like the Bengals hitting the big stage last February.
In the end, Sunday at the Vikings should say a lot about Saleh and his players, who can gain a lot of confidence by taking an 8-4 record to Buffalo next week. It’s time for this defeated franchise to begin a new era of sustained achievement.
It’s time for the Jets to finally get going.
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